My friend Aby and I were hanging out and around 10pm, we had the lovely idea of trying to make Hokkaido Milk Bread!
…While it turned out fabulous, we were dying. You know bread… Proofing, kneading, caring for it, baking, swaddling, watching it grow, sending it off to college, with tears in your eyes– Okay, yeah, I exaggerated a bit. But you get the point.
3AM, and we finally made the pretty little loaf. Unfortunately, it would have been a lot cuter and fluffier if we nurtured it longer, but our patience was wearing thin and the clock kept ticking. With that being said, I have one piece of advice: don’t start making bread at 10pm, especially if you worked a full day… Unless you really want to. >.<
What you see up above is tangzhong, which is a technique a lot of Asian bread bakers use in order to make the bread softer. It’s achieved by making a roux out of the bread flour and water to form a paste-like goo out of it, which is what you’re doing in this recipe! 😀
When you make the bread, it’s always good to make a little well in the flour, as shown here. One thing Aby told me while we were making the dough was to add the yeast last… And I kinda already put the yeast in there. Whoops.
Kneading the dough can take some time, and you have to make sure that you don’t overknead! 🙁 The best texture is that it bounces back when you poke it, but also maintains that caverned shape when you poked it. It should also feel somewhat like an ear.
This Hokkaido Milk Bread pic, above, is a guideline for those who need a visual on how the loaf should look like. When you split it in 4 pieces, you’re going to end up flattening it just a little, then rolling it up like a cinnamon roll. Remember to put an egg wash on these babies before popping them in the oven!
- 6 T water (for tangzhong)
- 2 T bread flour (for tangzhong)
- 2¾ c bread flour
- 1½ tsp active dry yeast
- ⅓ c whole milk
- ¼ c heavy whipping cream
- 2 T sweetened condensed milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 T butter, softened
- 1 tsp salt
- TO MAKE TANGZHONG: Whisk the 6 T of water and 2 T of bread flour together until smooth. In a small saucepan, put this mix over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens to a paste-like substance. Set aside and cool to room temp.
- Microwave whole milk for 10-15 seconds, just until the milk is lukewarm to the touch. Add in active dry yeast, stir, and let sit.
- Sift dry ingredients (rest of bread flour, sugar, and salt) together in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients (tangzhong, whipping cream, condensed milk). Add in one egg and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon. Mix together slightly, then add in yeast mixture. Keep stirring with spoon until it forms a loose dough, then start kneading with your hands for 4-5 min, or until it forms a semi-smooth ball that sticks a little to your hands.
- Add 1 T of butter to the dough, kneading it through completely. Add other tablespoon once the first one is fully incorporated. This should make the dough elastic and pliable.
- Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, another 4-5 minutes.
- Oil a separate bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a terrycloth or plastic wrap and let proof for 2 hours (alternatively, you can let it proof overnight-- just pop it in the fridge).
- Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out on it. Punch down. Roll into a cylinder, then cut into 4 equal sized pieces.
- Roll out each piece a little bit until it forms a little cylinder of its own, and then roll up one end to the other, like you would a cinnamon roll. Do this to all the pieces, and set aside.
- In a 9x4 loaf pan, oil the pan and deposit all 4 pieces inside. Set aside and let proof for 1 hour.
- minutes into letting your loaf proof, preheat the oven to 350 F.
- MAKE EGGWASH: Take the remaining egg, plus a splash of either whole milk or water, and whisk until the liquid and egg have mixed together. Set aside for later.
- Once the two hours are over, or once the dough is ready (which you can test by poking it; if it springs back instantly but still has an indent, it's ready) spread eggwash on the top of the loaf.
- Bake loaf in oven for 30 min, or until the top has browned and, when tapped, resonates a hollow sound.
- Take loaf out of oven and let cool for 1 hour. Then, enjoy!
What is your favorite type of bread? Do you buy or it do you make it (or both)? Comment below! 🙂